Langley’s top cop off to Israel
Langley RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke is leaving his post to work as a senior police advisor in Jerusalem as a member of Operation Proteus.
It’s a one-year mission. He will be advising on human rights-based policing, helping to work with the Palestinian Authority security forces located in the West Bank, which is within Israel, on policies, procedures and training.
He is working among 20 or so top Canadian military personnel to be sent there. He is the only RCMP member involved. Operation Proteus is an important component of Canada’s broader engagement in the Middle East peace process.
“For years I thought it would be amazing to be involved in a UN mission.
“A position came available. I’m getting towards the end of my career and I saw this as a great opportunity.
“I discussed it at length with my wife and we decided I would apply,” said Cooke.
He spoke with The Times from Ottawa, where he is in training for two weeks before being deployed sometime in August.
“As I’m speaking I’m watching the missile attacks in Israel on the TV,” he pointed out.
Currently, the situation in Israel is volatile with air strikes escalating.
A replacement for Cooke in Langley has not been named.
RCMP members have always been involved around the world working in various peace missions in places like Afghanistan, East Timor and Sudan, for example.
Langley RCMP Sgt. Dave Carr has been involved in several missions, his last being in South Sudan.
Cooke said he isn’t in a place in his life where roughing it is appealing.
“I like a nice shower in the morning and plumbing,” he said.
His deployment to the West Bank where modern amenities are the norm, in a location with fascinating history is the “Cadillac of assignments.”
And while at most UN missions, family are not allowed to visit, if the country is stable and it is safe to do so, his wife and two daughters can come visit.
“It could be an amazing cultural experience for my family,” Cooke said.
There was medical, physical and psychological testing he had to get through to be accepted for the mission.
“I have MS. I have had it for years. I have been very fortunate in that I’ve been very stable and have no mobility issues,” said Cooke. “I have some sensory issues. But I have been cleared to go.”
Cooke isn’t too worried about his safety there, although he recognizes that escalating violence between Israel and Hamas means the situation is changing all the time, he said.